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Brittle or rough nails? This is what they tell you about your health

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Shiny hair and glowing skin are not just beautiful features, they also tell us something about how we’re feeling inside. The same goes for nails. 

Would you like your nails to be a little stronger, more shiny or more pink? If they don’t look as beautiful as they have before, this may say something about your health. For instance, pay attention to: 

1 The texture 

Healthy nails have a strong, smooth surface. Do you notice strange little dents in your nails? They may be linked to psoriasis, a chronical skin condition that comes with itchiness. For some people who suffer from this condition, the first sign is a change in the nails. 

Deep, horizontal ridges or grooves in the nails are sometimes called ‘lines of Beau’. They are caused by a little wound or other damage on your cuticles. Usually, the ridges disappear naturally. But horizontal ridges may also have an underlying physical cause such as syphilis, a metabolic disease or diabetes. And some people get ridges after chemo or the use of certain medication. 

Vertical ridges are nothing to worry about. Your nails are mostly made out of keratine. This is a protein that hair and skin are also made of. As we get older, most of us have dryer skin that feels less soft and our hair gets dryer. This is simply because of a decrease of keratine. In the nails, this decrease shows in innocent vertical ridges. 

2 The colour 

If you suddenly notice blue or black discoloration in your nails, it’s best to head to the doctor. Possibly, there’s nothing wrong – you may have hurt yourself without noticing – but the discoloration *may* be caused by a melanoma. It’s always wise to see the doctor, just to be certain. 

Yellow nails usually occur because of the products you use, such as nailpolish or remover. Always allow your nails to ‘breathe’ in between manicures and nourish them extra well, for instance with some tea tree oil or vitamin E oil.  If you don’t use any products, yellow nails may be caused by a yeast infection. 

White spots on your nails? They are usually nothing to worry about. They appear after bumping your nails into something, and disappear automatically. If you always have white spots on your nails, without knowing where they came from, it might be a good idea to see a doctor. It could be a signal of a lack of vitamin, calcium or zinc. 

3 Strength 

If your nails break or flake easily, this may be due to anemia or problems with the thyroid gland. Splitting nails may be a sign of a lack of hypoferremia. 

Soft, thin and bendable nails can usually be strengthened by giving your nails some rest and not using nailpolish for a while and using products that help to restore your nails. 

Text: Sanne Eva Dijkstra - Photo: Daiga Ellaby